G.A. Minutes 6-18-13
The Christian youth group has returned as they promised they would last Tuesday. However, there’s a lot more of them and there’s something different about them. A counselor explains this is another group of kids; it’s only the counselors who will be in Duluth for the summer. These kids are from the Twin Cities and they’re not as wide eyed and unsophisticated as last week’s youth from South Dakota. They’re not at all impressed that we’re Occupy Duluth; to them we’re just another bunch of grownups. Boring. The counselors have a general idea of what Occupy is all about and they have even heard of Idle No More. They ask questions and we explain the urgency of halting climate change, fighting the financiers, oil companies and such. They say, “Well thanks for doing that”. They want to meet some homeless people. We say, “Homeless people probably won’t come into the Memorial until you are gone. They are used to being harassed by people who look like you; they don’t know you so will be suspicious. It took us a good while to establish trust around here.” They gather up the young people and leave. No one says good bye.
A middle aged man who has visited in the past sits down. Tonight he’s talking about the amount of homeless people who gravitate to Duluth. He says the services in our city are superior to any place he has ever lived. An Occupier responds, “We know the provisions for homeless folks in Duluth are insufficient so it’s very sad that many people tell us other places have much less.” The man tells us our city is the only place he knows of that provides anything for single homeless men. He has grown up in the south and says down there, the solution to homelessness is arrest and placement on a chain gang.
Our regular visitor from Mississippi arrives and then, the pregnant woman who stayed at our camp. Tonight she has a man with her and they both appear to be drunk. She smells our burning sage and asks to be smudged. We say,” We’re not Native so don’t really have the power to smudge”. She responds, “I have that power. I’ll talk you through it.” An Occupier does as she instructs him. She then tells her male partner they have enough money for one last 40 ounce. To us she says, “I’ll be back in a while.”
Another Occupier reports that Water Legacy has put in a request for Occupiers to assist them in getting petition signatures for their petition to protect our waterways and to deny PolyMet’s plea for a sulphide mining permit on the Iron Range. Everyone agrees to help. The petition drive is to take place next Saturday afternoon and evening so we know we’ll have to cancel our G.A. So be it.
As we are having this discussion we notice our main “problem child” has come to sit on the back ledge. This is another woman who lived at our camp. She has a serious drinking problem and severe mental health issues. When she drinks she becomes angry, aggressive and obnoxious. Tonight she is very drunk. After our camp closed, we didn’t see her for a while but when she returned, she returned with the belief that one of the Occupiers had ripped her shirt off, killed the baby she was carrying in her womb and then sent the father of her unborn baby to prison. From what we know of her life, these things probably did happen but of course, the Occupiers had nothing to do with it. She starts again with the same rant, “You tore off my shirt! You killed my baby! You sent my baby’s daddy to prison!” When this happens, the accused Occupier generally just hangs his head. Another Occupier has said, “We need to confront her when she does this. We need to tell she is wrong”. Tonight this Occupier gives it a try. She says, “You need to stop saying these things! You know they’re not true. Maybe all these things happened to you but they weren’t caused by him.” The ranting woman stops for a minute and then starts yelling again. As usual, her friends drag her off and apologize for her behavior. Oh well, we’ll just have to keep trying. When she’s not drinking, which isn’t very often, one can actually talk with her.
Now a couple of men we haven’t met get some coffee and sit down. They are residents of a nearby group home. The younger man says, “If the evil spirits are getting too close, you can always ask the butterfly for help”. We wonder what he means but decide not to go there tonight. We can only handle so much insanity at one time.
The older man chats with us about capitalism and such. He tells us he is content in the home where he is currently living. However, he tells of bad experiences he had while living in a home owned by one of the biggest companies in town. His stories jibe with what we had heard via the grapevine about this big company. He looks and his watch and says he needs to get the younger man back before curfew. “Will you guys be here another night? I’d like to come back”. We tell him when we hold our meetings and encourage him to return.
A regular man from the street comes walking rather rapidly. He’s the one we call the intelligent man. He knows the street well but never seems drunk or drugged and generally appears to be helping others. He calls to all the people on the corner, “Don’t go down there. Don’t go down there.” Everyone listens to him, turns and walks the other way. An Occupier takes a peek and says, ”Oh, they’re all fighting down there”. Squad cars go whizzing by. Same old, same old.
Another young man runs up to us. “Is that sage?” An Occupier hands him the burning bundle, he smudges himself, says thank you and runs off.
It’s time to leave. Everyone helps clean up. The Occupier couple are the last ones to go. The man says, “Why do they fight each other?” The woman replies, “They have a lot of anger and stress. If they take it out on anyone else, they’ll go to jail”.
Just then, a squad car roars up and squeals on to the Memorial. Our friend, the former camper and her man are drinking their 40 ounce on the back ledge. They capture the two and throw them on the car. They are both all too familiar with this routine so they “assume the position”. Another squad pulls up and then another. The Occupier couple are across the street and have finished loading up. They decide to stay and watch and witness. After much talk and body searching, the cops pour out the 40 ounce and let the drinkers go. After 5-0 leaves, the Occupier woman gives the drinkers a few cigarettes and says, “Too much drama”. They appear a little shaken and say,”Yeah too much drama”. Another night in the hood.